By Solomon Thimothy, founder of Clickx

Sharing visual content on social media platforms is a great way to boost engagement. Compared to standard text posts, images or videos can increase views, likes and comments. A strong image or an interesting video will make people stop and pay attention. As they’re scrolling through their social media feeds, sharing something that breaks up the typical text post can bring more eyes to your content. 

However, in today’s social age, videos and images are becoming more and more standard. They need to be used strategically if you want them to make an impact with your audience. 

Both images and videos have their own unique benefits. Let’s take a look at what they are, when they should be used and how they can help boost your social media presence -- and your brand along with it.

The Social Media Benefits of Videos

Videos are one of the most popular forms of content for social media. They’re a great way to deliver long messages where your audience may not want to stop and read.

For many social media users, video is the preferred content method. Short clips can deliver quick bits of information while longer videos can deliver extended messages. When videos are well done, they can also boost brand awareness by increasing your number of shares. 

However, in order for a video to be worth sharing, you usually need to invest some time and money. Low-quality videos are all over the web, meaning you need to create something worth watching if you want to make an impact. But this doesn’t necessarily mean every video must be professionally produced. I’ve found that live clips or shots of you just talking to a camera can go a long way.

The Social Media Benefits of Images

Like videos, images are all over social media. A strong, powerful or interesting image can grab your audience’s eye and get them engaged in whatever you’re sharing. 

However, unlike videos, your images usually can’t relay a message on their own. For most entrepreneurs or small businesses, your images should supplement other content you’re sharing, such as blog posts. 

Images have the benefit of being easier to produce. There are dozens and dozens of sites out there dedicated to offering high-quality stock photos. You can also hire a professional photographer to snap unique images for a reasonable cost. 

Video vs. Images: Which Should You Share?

Videos and images each have their own time to shine. Knowing when to use each is important. 

When determining which to use, first you want to consider the platform you’re sharing on and how those users engage. While both video and images are popular on just about every platform, there are some areas that are more conducive to one or the other. For example, Facebook and Instagram lend well to video, but you may not want to include video in your Pinterest strategy.

If you have a message you want to get across within the social media platform, opt for a video. A quick, to-the-point informative video can help you reach more people because they won’t need to click through to another page to get to your content. Images and text are usually less engaging in these situations.

You can also use video in ads or to promote other content. However, images can be just as impactful in these cases. A strong visual that makes your audience want to learn more about what you have to offer can entice them to click through to a landing page or your website. Optimize your images by adding text to stand out and grab attention. 

When choosing between videos or images, you also need to identify which your audience prefers. While video might perform better in some situations, if your target audience is not interested in watching videos on social, you’d be better off opting for images or vice versa. 

If you’re still unsure, start running A/B tests. Do a campaign using videos and a similar trial with images to see which your audience is engaging with more. This will help you determine which you should use in the future. 

Both videos and images can enhance your social media strategy, but effectively using each depends on the context. Include both in your strategy, but think about the impact each will have with your audience. When you focus on creating content that appeals to your audience’s needs, you can’t go wrong.

Solomon Thimothy is the founder of Clickx, a marketing intelligence platform that helps businesses and agencies with marketing attribution.

Published on: Aug 8, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.